NORMAN — City officials say they will use a $50.3 million loan from the state Water Resources Board to make improvements to the city’s water reclamation/wastewater treatment plant.
Improvements will expand the plant’s capacity from 12 million to 16 million gallons per day, meet mandated standards set by the state Department of Environmental Quality, and include replacement of old or obsolete equipment.
The state board approved the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan to the Norman Utilities Authority during the panel’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Joe Freeman, chief of the Water Resources Board’s financial assistance division, calculated that the Norman Utilities Authority’s 34,525 customers will save an estimated $15,090,000 in interest charges over the life of the 15-year loan, as compared with traditional financing.
The loan money will go toward a planned $63 million upgrade of the southside plant. Voters approved a rate hike in sanitary sewer fees in November to help pay for the project.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan will be secured with a lien on the revenues of the water and wastewater system, said Utilities Director Ken Komiske.
Komiske said the city is getting the loan at a 2.35 percent interest rate, versus the probable 3 percent or higher rate if the loan were from a bank.
“It will save our customers a lot of money, and that’s important,” he said.
The plant improvements are necessary so the city can meet newer, stricter treatment standards set by the Department of Environmental Quality. Without a plan for making the improvements, Norman would have faced fines up to $10,000 a day, possibly beginning as early as July 1, Komiske said.
Improvements to the plant will begin in June and take about three years to complete, he said.
The plant now is operating at nearly 92 percent capacity, with equipment that was installed in 1957, Komiske said.
Since 1983, the state Water Resources Board has approved more than $3 billion in loans and grants for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements throughout Oklahoma.